The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review

A Terrible Price For This Remake

When Nintendo announced that The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening would come back to the Nintendo Switch I felt like I was thrown back in time. Back to 1998 when Link’s Awakening already was re-released once to have the game being supported now in Color for the new GameBoy Color and respectively added not only full color support but also a brand new dungeon which allowed you to pick a new red or blue robe which either doubles the damage you deal or halves the damage you take.

Now in 2019 we have the very same game being released on the Nintendo Switch and when I wanted to review the game and finally got to a conclusion after 3.5 pages I had to make a stop and basically decided to ditch it all in favor for a new perspective. Because Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch is not worth it. Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch needs a sticker that warns the buyer beforehand that “this is only a GameBoy game we made look and sound nice, but don’t expect Breath of the Wild 2 here”. What that means is something I’ll explain shortly but before that let’s have a brief look at what’s all new in Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch

Again, just like in the 90s, you’re stranded on the island of Koholint as Link, being rescued by Marin and from then on being tasked by the owl to get together all 8 instruments of the sirens to wake the wind fish. There is nothing new in that regard.

Dungeon creator – not the big changer

What is new, as optional content, is the addition of a dungeon creator mode through a little shop in the woods. By progressing through the game’s dungeons you unlock new tiles which allow you to create new dungeons on your own to overcome challenges posed by the dungeon master.

There’s no real reward besides one secret seashell, of which there are now 50 to collect compared to the original 25 and also like the original, only four fifth of these seashells are required to unlock the powerful Koholint sword which boosts your power yet again. So just like in the original where you needed 20 of these seashells, you’re only asked to collect 40 from the 50 available. So the dungeon questing on its own doesn’t hold any real necessity.

Compared to the color dungeon in the Gameboy Color Link’s Awakening DX release this is a bit of a sad look. That color dungeon had new challenges and made use of the fact that the game is now in color. In that it added new gameplay content and also allowed for easier progress through the later half of the game.

Modern controls for better handling

What is more noticeable on the update front is the added buttons you can now use to control link. Sprinting, shield using, sword slashes and interactions are its own buttons now. Additionally the power lifting and swimming are auto-enabled once the respective items are acquired in their dungeons. This leads to the game having much less item management time and much more pure gameplay. These are only a few seconds each time when you have to reequip your items based on your desired loadout, but while the Gameboy had only A and B buttons, the Switch easily allows for more versatile control usage. Overall this is of course a massive improvement in the quality of life when playing Link’s Awakening.

Link’s Awakening never looked better*

On the graphics and sound aspect side we do see a new vision of Link’s Awakening coming to life. From the 2D graphics and chiptune music we’ve moved to 3D toy-like models and graphics for a cute aesthetic while an orchestrated soundtrack let’s us dive fully into the world of Koholint. No real complaints from me besides the lacking usage of resolution scaling and content streaming.

What I mean by that is the abrupt change in resolutions especially when being inside compared to the outside world which sometimes let’s the game look drastically different when the resolution jumps from 720p to 1080p graphics. This is of course used also the other way around, when framerates are dropping below 60 and the double buffer v-sync gets activated to lock the game down to only 30 fps. The change between these different settings is what many people complain online about right now when they talk about framerate issues. The issue mostly happens in some areas when new content has to be streamed into the system’s memory while also struggling to keep the resolution and framerate stable.

This is overall not a bad experience, but it definitely feels jarring for the first few times this is happening. And this is where my troubles start to arise now with the release of Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch.

A Gameboy release in new clothes

Grezzo studio has most notably done the major ports of the Legend of Zelda console titles to the Nintendo 3DS, including the 3Ds port of Luigi’s Mansion. It’s technically impressive to have these N64 games or even Gamecube games run on a small seemingly incapable handheld device like the Nintendo 3DS. But Link’s Awakening is not a retro console title that was scaled onto the 3DS. This is a GameBoy game being stretched onto the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s best console for both handheld and home-console gaming. I feel a bit ripped off by Nintendo with these minor issues and not much new content that enhances the gameplayer overall.

Asking me full money, 60€, for Link’s Awakening while I can still replay and 100% Breath of the Wild on the very same console, with much more content, seems just expensive. It would have been maybe even better, to have the original Gameboy release on Nintendo Switch online. I get that the new art direction, orchestral music and gameplay improvements for the controls are only on the remake, but in the end this is the same old game that we already played in 1993. It is a good game, but quite a lot if you’d ask me for the full 60€.

Would I recommend Link’s Awakening?

And at that point I have to ask you, would you be willing to spent that much money on a new game when there’s so much more you could get? The game is good, no question. It was a pleasure to play and the minor issues are no problem. But when you’d ask me if I would recommend to get the game right now? I’d say, this isn’t the release I’d talk about to my friends when they don’t know what to play. Get Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch, but please, wait for an offer.

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